As we begin a new term and a new phase in the life of the church it looks like some new opportunities are on the horizon. During the summer break I’ve had several unsolicited conversations with people about church growth and as a result I’ve been forced to ask what we as the Fountain of Life are doing about it. Of course the immediate answer to that question is that over the last decade or more we have invested heavily in outreach and evangelism and as a result we now have a number of growing and healthy missional communities, a presence in over 20 schools and active youth and adult ministries that seek to gather people in a variety of ways. My sense, however, is that the landscape around us is changing and we as a church need to consider where we fit into the new scene that’s developing.
I am reminded of that verse from Isaiah 43:19 that we kept hearing 23 years ago when the Fountain of Life was first born, “ 19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” The question that verse raises for us is quite simply, “Do we perceive what God is doing?” As we look around us can we see where He is moving and what He’s asking us to do with Him? So here’s what I can see in the landscape around us.
Firstly, while we were at New Wine serving with the Boulder Gang Team I was invited to a couple of meetings which made it clear to me that the wider church has reached a point where it recognises the need for new church planting and development. To that end New Wine have appointed a new Head of Church Planting who is keen to help churches to look at the geographical region they sit and to ask what is God saying about the need for something new in my area? Where are the opportunities that we need to step into? Which towns or villages have worshipping populations that are disproportionally smaller that the demographics would suggest is right for the area.
Secondly, as we returned from New Wine the Diocese of Norwich announced that it had received a £1.98 million grant from the strategic development fund to plant 10 new churches or to revitalise established ones. The timing of these 2 things is incredible.
At the time of writing this article I’m still wondering what God is saying to us but I’d like to ask that we all pray about it and weigh what we find. I perceive that something new IS happening and I think we should be seeking God about our place in His plans. Please join me in seeking His heart for the people of this region.